In recent weeks, there has been yet another battle between our native people and the United States government. About an hour south of Bismarck, North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is standing in opposition to Energy Transfer Partners over a new 1,200 mile $3.8 billion “Dakota Access” pipeline set to cross straight through traditional Sioux land.
The Sioux and other native peoples have several issues with the construction of this pipeline. Many are concerned with environmental damage, and damage to clean drinking water. A Sioux representative is quoted as saying “Accidents happen, and we do not want to take the risk.” Environmental issues are not the only concern of the Sioux people. The pipeline travels directly through culturally significant areas of Sioux land, including religious areas and burial sites.
But the opposition sites many potential benefits of the pipeline. The Dallas-based ETP argues that the use of the pipeline is actually safer and cheaper than the railroad alternative. In addition to safety, ETP states that the construction of this pipeline will earn North Dakota and local governments $156 million in State and Income tax and will create between 8 and 12,000 jobs.
By creating the pipeline ETP also hopes to aide the North Dakota economy by transporting the abundance of gas to middle Illinois and other parts of the Midwest. But as tensions increase and violence occurs many believe that there may not be a peaceful resolution to this problem.
On September 9th, a federal judge rejected a request from Sioux people asking to stop construction, ruling in favor of ETP. Soon after, President Obama stepped in and halted any construction on Federal land, temporarily halting some of this construction.
Ultimately this is an extremely complex issue that has many implications. While there have been proposed economic benefits, the damage to land and native peoples is extreme – yet another example of the US ignoring the native people.